Exoplanets & Exomoons

Direct Emission Spectroscopy Of Exoplanets With The Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer On Board JWST

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
November 1, 2021
Filed under
Direct Emission Spectroscopy Of Exoplanets With The Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer On Board JWST
Top: Atmospheric model of HR8799 b calculated with petitRADTRANS and simulated MRS data using MIRISIM with realistic observation parameters, including all available noise sources. After the whole simulation chain and pipeline calibration steps we recover the input flux (see inset) by subtracting the stellar PSF with a simulation of HR8799 A without the planets. The error bars indicate the 3 σ estimates from apertures with no planet signal at the same separation from the star as HR8799 b. Bottom: Opacity of different molecules as a function of wavelength in the mid-IR. Many molecules provide modulation in their opacity which will translate to detectable molecular features in their spectra.

The Medium Resolution Spectrometer on board JWST/MIRI will give access to mid-IR spectra while retaining spatial information. With the unparalleled sensitivity of JWST and the MIRI detectors, the MRS has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of giant exoplanet atmospheres.

Molecular mapping is a promising detection and characterisation technique used to study the spectra of directly imaged exoplanets. We aim to examine the feasibility and application of this technique to MRS observations. We used the instrument simulator MIRISIM to create mock observations of resolved star and exoplanet systems. As an input for the simulator, we used stellar and planet parameters from literature, with the planet spectrum being modelled with the radiative transfer code petitRADTRANS.

After processing the raw data with the JWST pipeline, we high pass filter the data to account for the stellar point spread function, and used a forward modelling approach to detect the companions and constrain the chemical composition of their atmospheres through their molecular signatures. We identified limiting factors in spectroscopic characterisation of directly imaged exoplanets with the MRS and simulated observations of two representative systems, HR8799 and GJ504.

In both systems, we could detect the presence of multiple molecules that were present in the input model of their atmospheres. We used two different approaches with single molecule forward models, used in literature, that are sensitive to detecting mainly H2O, CO, CH4, and NH3, and a log-likelihood ratio test that uses full atmosphere forward models and is sensitive to a larger number of less dominant molecular species. We show that the MIRI MRS can be used to characterise widely separated giant exoplanets in the mid-IR using molecular mapping.

Direct Emission Spectroscopy Of Exoplanets With The Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer On Board JWST MIRI: I. Molecular Mapping And Sensitivity To Instrumental Effects

P. Patapis, E. Nasedkin, G. Cugno, A.M. Glauser, I. Argyriou, N. P. Whiteford, P. Mollière, A. Glasse, S. P. Quanz

Comments: 18 pages, 10 figures. Accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2110.15756 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2110.15756v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Polychronis Patapis
[v1] Fri, 29 Oct 2021 13:05:20 UTC (5,390 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻